How to start a successful dog walking business (Updated for 2024)

When I started my dog walking business over a decade ago I took everything I’d learned from my 20 year career in sales and applied the techniques to my new business.

Some of them worked, and some were colossal failures and did not transfer well over to this industry. (Follow up phone calls to previous enquiries do. not. work. )

I’d worked in some high-pressure sales environments and that just doesn’t work with your average dog owner. In fact, I’d argue that the days of high-pressure sales techniques are unsuccessful in most industries in 2024.

It got me thinking. If I had to do it again, how would I start a dog walking business in 2024?

So this is what I’d do.

Click to skip to the step by step summary.

4 dogs on a rock looking at the camera

Network with local, established, dog walkers

Contact your local dog walkers who have been running for a few years already. 

Most dog walkers will be happy to answer a few questions by email or DM is usually best then they can reply when they’re not busy.

Established walkers can give you an honest answer as to whether your area has enough work for you to be successful.

They’ll also be in a position to refer enquiries to you if their books are full. Having an experienced walker who likes you and thinks you’ll be great at the job can lead directly to you getting your first few clients.

What should I ask?

  1. Is there enough work in the area to make starting worthwhile?
  2. Is there a gap in the market that needs filling? (Maybe the area needs more walkers who offer solo walks or short walks)
  3. Is there any chance I could join you on a walk one day to gain some experience?

Research dog walk pricing locally

Most walkers have their prices freely available on either their Facebook business pages or websites.

It will vary depending on the area you’re in but you’ll soon see a pattern of what the normal charges are.

It’s really tempting when you first start to offer your services at a lower price but try not to.

If other walkers are charging, for example, £14 per hour for a group walk, that means the people in the area you’re in can afford that rate and are already paying that rate.

If you start offering walks for £10 then all that’s happening is those people who can afford and would have paid £14 are now paying £10 and you’ve reduced your potential income by almost 30%

Choose a business name

Think about who will be attracted to your business name when you’re deciding on what to call yourself.

People who call themselves ‘K9 boot camp or ‘Tuff Walks’ tend not to attract clients with Dachshunds and Bichon Frises. And ‘Fluffy pop-ins’ tend not to get many enquiries from Dobermann owners.

Once you’ve decided on your memorable business name, set up a Gmail account in that name for your email to keep it separate from your personal one, then sign up to all the social media accounts in that name that you possibly can. Even if you don’t intend to use them now, you may in the future.

Set up Facebook and Instagram first.

Why? Because your clients will be people of working age and these two social media accounts will overlap all age ranges.

70% of Facebook users in the UK are in the age bracket of 25 to 65 which will be your core demographic group.

54% of Instagram users are in the age bracket 18 to 34 and this will catch any non-Facebook users in this younger demographic. 

Get found on Google.

Websites can take time to show up on a Google search so instead of a website make sure your business shows up on google maps. When people search for dog walkers they will be shown their local map with all of your competitors on it. Don’t miss out!

Click for Google’s guide on how you add your business to Google maps.

Walk a dog

Walk someone’s dog, a friend, a neighbour, or your own. Take some great photos of them having fun and put them on your socials.

There’s no need to say it’s your dog, or that you’ve just started, or that it’s unpaid. Make the walk look fun, make yourself look capable. These photos are advertising your business. Nothing frustrates me more than to see another walker using stock photos they found on the internet. Yes that spaniel with a forest background is beautiful but I’ve seen it on a dozen other websites and I know it’s not a dog you walk 🙂

Walk at busy local dog walking spots at times your potential clients will be there, i.e evenings and weekends. 

Be brave, chat with them, make a fuss of their dogs. Tell them you’re a dog walker and tell them your memorable business name. 

When I started I handed out business cards, but I think I still have most of them left ten years later. It’s much easier if you get them to follow you on social media whilst you’re talking to them. 


Take a canine first aid course

Having this certificate adds value to your services, most of your competitors will already have it and you really, really need to know what to do in an emergency situation.

Providing peace of mind to your clients is invaluable.

Click here to see our recommended canine first aid courses. (and keep the receipt, it’s a business expense!)

Get a DBS check.

Previously known as a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) this checks for a criminal record and provides you with a certificate that you can show clients.

Most of your clients are about to hand over the key to their home so it’s a way to reassure them about your past. 

Check out our post on how to get a DBS report and don’t get fooled into paying more than you have to by unscrupulous third-party websites.

Get insured

It makes sense to hold off starting your policy until your first dog books a walk, but if your first client wants to see proof let them know you’ll email it over to them later (giving you time to buy it).

Click to check out the UK’s most popular pet business insurance providers and why you should have a policy in place to protect yourself and your clients.

Write your contract

This can be tricky if you’ve never written one before but thankfully there are plenty of examples you can draw on from other pet sitters sites. 

Click here to see more information about contracts and our examples.

a dog and his owner sat on a tree stump

Have a Marketing Plan

For example, you could offer current clients a small discount or one free walk for each person they recommend you to and who books with you. 

Keep doing this until you’re half full for walks then let the word of mouth snowball roll along on its own.

Research other dog walkers’ business pages and social and see what they’re doing. Don’t just look locally for ideas, you don’t want to be accused of copying. 

Follow all the dog walkers from everywhere in the Uk and abroad. See their offers, watch how they interact on social media and the sorts of photos they post. Would their methods work for you? In your local area? With the sorts of places you walk? 

Prepare your vehicle

If you’re going to be transporting dogs, start to prepare your vehicle prior to getting your first client.

Add business use to your insurance policy, carriage of own goods is fine as the dogs themselves are covered by your business insurance.

Get a dog guard for your car to divide the front from the back or the back from the boot or both.

Don’t be tempted to buy a van straight away, and don’t buy crates yet.

Get clients first. Start walking one dog at a time, get to know the dogs then start pairing them as you get busier. 

Once you have too many clients’ dogs to fit in your car safely then upgrade to a van, a bigger car or further divide your car up with suitably sized crates.

Do you need a van to be a dog walker? Click to check out our article covering exactly that question.

two dogs waiting patiently for treats


A few don’ts that will save you time and money when starting out;

Business Wear

Do not have business logo t-shirts, hoodies or stickers made. It seems like a great marketing tool but in reality, very few people are reading the logo on your shirt whether you’re in the queue in Lidl6 or out walking dogs. 


Don’t register as self-employed straight away. You have until the 5th of October in the following tax year to register, so if your business never takes off then you won’t have the hassle of shutting it down.

So the tax year in the UK ends on the 5th of April. If the start date of your business is between the 6th of April 2023 and the 5th of April 2024 then you have until the 5th of October 2024 to register as self-employed with the HMRC.

This makes sure that you’re all registered and ready to do your first self-assessment tax return before the cut-off date of 31st January 2024.

Bank account

Don’t get a business bank account that charges you a monthly fee, there are free ones (I recommend Starling) or just open a separate, new, bank account in your personal name.

Contrary to popular belief it’s not a legal requirement to have a business account.


Don’t buy a bunch of leads, use the owners whilst you’re still starting out. You’ll work out what you like, dislike and actually need as you go along. Don’t forget to keep all receipts if you do buy stuff as it’s a business expense.

TLDR; How to start a dog walking business in 2024

  1. Network
  2. Research Pricing
  3. Business Name
  4. Social Media
  5. Google Maps
  6. Walk Dogs
  7. Canine 1st Aid
  8. DBS / Criminal Record Check
  9. Insurance
  10. Contracts
  11. Marketing
  12. Prepare your Vehicle


The dog walking coach website is supported by our visitors. Some of the product links on this website are through affiliate schemes such as Amazon. This means that I earn a small commission if you choose to purchase something at no extra cost to yourself.

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